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3D-Printed Rocket Successfully Blasts Off From New Zealand

22 January 2018

Rocket Lab successful launch and payload deployment - Expert reactionRocket Lab successfully launched its Electron rocket and deployed satellites into orbit this afternoon, a milestone for the company and New Zealand's fledgling private space industry.

Company CEO and founder Peter Beck, a New Zealander, said the launch marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space. Originally, the company had planned to do three flight tests, but Beck indicated that if this flight went well enough, Rocket Lab might skip the third test altogether. To put this in perspective, we are now one of just a dozen countries to have successfully built and deployed an rocket that can put satellites into orbit. And I must say, the geographic setting of the launch pad is the most scenic in the world.

The dreams of one Rocket Lab customer, in particular, were buoyed by the successful flight of the Electron. Moon Express is the company's most high profile customer.

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Rocket Lab's big ambition is to be a dedicated launcher of small satellites.

Beck's comments continue that reaching orbit on a second test flight is significant on its own, but successfully deploying customer payloads so early in a new rocket program is nearly unprecedented. Today they took a significant step towards that.

The launch of the rocket - named Still Testing - follows the company's first launch last May, in which the rocket got to space but did not make it to orbit after range safety officials had to kill the flight.

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This mission was nicknamed "Still Testing", but unlike the first mission, the objective was not merely to test Rocket Lab's hardware.

The company had conducted several launch attempts in December which failed to take off.

Shortly after, it suspended launch attempts until early 2018.

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"New Zealand is well positioned to support further development of the space industry".

3D-Printed Rocket Successfully Blasts Off From New Zealand